Are You Overloading Your Skin with Harmful Chemicals?

Nothing gets in the way of your beauty regime like sensitive skin. Whether it interferes with the beauty products you use or your anti-ageing wellness, a flush or itch here and there is all it takes to dampen you beauty wellbeing. Surely, there’s a simple, soothing solution out there?


Skin sensitivity is something that can hit you at any time, even if you’ve never had any problems at all. You can fight back at the chapping, peeling, flushing and itching with every masque, moisturiser you can find, but often this just feeds the monster, and so your skin sensitivity worsens. As the world gets more polluted, and filled with more beauty products than you can shake a stick at, sensitive skin is a growing problem. It can be brought on by a skin condition like eczema or rosacea, something small like a hot shower or new anti-ageing serum, or even something invisible like the iron and calcium content in hard water. The number one culprit, however, is you.


This is according to the American Academy of Dermatology, which reports that skin irritations are usually self-inflicted. If you look at all the do-it-yourself LED facials, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels, it’s hard to deny that you put your skin through hell in the name of looking young and fresh. Dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross believe that the cases of sensitive skin he sees these days occur 50% more often than they did just three years ago. He surmises, ‘Now that there’s so much at-home treatment available, the temptation is definitely there. The thinking is, The more I do for my skin, the better.’


However, when it comes to slathering your face with chemicals, the reality is that less is more. Dermatologist Dr. Sandy Johnson notes, ‘When we strip away the skin’s natural barrier of protection, we enable toxins, pollutants, sensitizers, allergens, and irritants to enter and cause problems.’ The worst thing is that if your skin becomes irritated by, say, your first domestic microderm, your gut reaction is to follow it up with an astringent and a retinoid moisturiser. Your skin needs recovery time after an intensive treatment, not more products being thrown at it!


The good news is, you can fix the damage you’ve done. Your skin flare-up fighting regimen should really only contain the essentials – and I mean essentials; a mild cleanser, a chemical-free sunblock (preferably with a mineral formula containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) and a scent-free moisturiser. That’s it! Fragrances and preservatives can further aggravate your sensitive skin, but sticking to these three products over a period of two to four weeks is usually enough to bring your skin back into balance. Then you can go back to the products you love, as long as you gradually reintroduce them one at a time. Gross elucidates, ‘Before you can do a workout with 30 pounds at the gym, you have to do it with 10 first. Skin abides by the same principle.’


However, although shop shelves are packed with products to fight the flake, it’s important to make sure you don’t land yourself back at square one. According to Dr Diane Berson, adjunct assistant professor of dermatology at New York University, ‘You want to avoid any product that boasts vitamins, antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and sunscreen all at the same time.’ In short, you need to find an active ingredient that works, rather than overloading your skin with the whole shebang. After all, that’s probably how you got into trouble in the first place! If you’re struggling, turn to natural ingredients like rose, lavender, chamomile derivatives, natural toners like witch hazel, aloe vera and gentle exfoliators like blueberry seeds.

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